Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fifth Guest

Fifth Guest.

I don’t know if fewer restaurants are taking reservations or if I’ve come to a point in my life where I can’t plan ahead far enough to make a reservation. Or maybe I no longer frequent eateries of that standard. Regardless of why, I now find myself on wait-lists a few times a week. How long I’m willing to wait depends on a few factors. If it’s just me and my boyfriend the maximum is about thirty minutes before we toddle off to find some place less popular.
If, however, we have conned other people into eating dinner with us then we’re willing to wait a little while longer portraying ourselves as a laid back and patient couple willing to go along with whatever the world has to offer. Sometimes I’m even able to convince myself that we are that couple. Unless, of course, there are five of us.
Once you pass the magic number of four the wait changes significantly. Now, instead of one table of people leaving to make room for you, it often takes two tables of people to leave at about the same time then a rearranging of furniture.
Nobody is happy about this arrangement not even the hostess. “How many?” she’ll ask with a smile. But when you tell her “five” the smile fades. You can see in her eyes she wants to tell you exactly how inconvenient that is. That she’ll have to save an empty table and hope that a second one opens up in the near vicinity. She will have to fight off the complaints of serving staff that have one table sitting empty during prime tip collecting times and of patrons wondering why they have to wait in a lobby when there are obviously seats available.
If I haven’t managed my food intake very well that day and I’m hungry it is about the thirty minute mark when I start to evaluate how close I really am to these people. Or specifically one of these people. The fifth one. The one that is making me wait by his mere presence. I never liked him anyway and if left right now I wouldn’t even care. If there is another couple in our odd group of five then it’s probably their fault. They’ve invited some friend of theirs I never liked. They should take their friend and go find their own table.
Of course sometimes our single friend invites a couple. Who does this anyway? Just invite people to dinner because you like them. If that couple left we could get a seat fast.
Maybe we could break up the couple. Is it too late to start a rumor of infidelity? The short guy is probably insecure I can go after him. I realize the one left to have dinner with us will be upset but at least we’ll be sitting down during the crying.
If an hour goes by and we’re still waiting I start considering breaking up my own relationship. Yes, I do love my partner but we’ve had a good run. Besides, it has been an hour. Really who could blame me? I could also just pick a fight and go home. Leave in a manufactured rage and stop by someplace to eat on the way. Some place with a drive through.
I guess the easiest way to avoid this situation is to stop being so damned friendly. Fewer friends means the chance of us having an even number goes up. As the hostess seats us I make a mental note to be less personable.

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